Hepatitis and Obesity: Adding Insult to Injury

In this guest editorial, the author talks about the challenges associated with dealing with both health issues.

When I see an overweight or obese individual, I envision a liver inside their abdomen that is struggling to convert all the unhealthy foods they’ve ingested into hundreds of essential body functions that keep them alive and active every day. In addition, the livers of hepatitis infected individuals are under attack by treacherous hepatitis viruses. However, most obese individuals and especially hepatitis patients are unaware that their unhealthy diets can cause additional damage to their ailing livers, adding insult to injury.

The liver and millions of amazing liver cells, including special 'cancer fighting liver cells,' serve as mini chemical refineries miraculously converting the food we ingest into hundreds of essential life supporting body parts and functions 365 days a year. These amazing liver cells create energy, strong bones and muscles, protecting us from germs that surround us, and toxins in alcohol, drugs and environmental pollutants while jump starting hundreds of vital functions that keep us alive and functioning 24/7.

Most individuals are also unaware that excess carbohydrates, sugar and fatty foods ingested are converted into sugar and stored as fat cells in the liver. According to new research, excessive fat cells that store essential energy and nutrients in obese individuals smother healthy and cancer fighting cells cause additional damage to the liver that is already under attack in hepatitis infected individuals.

Eventually the liver, overloaded with fat cells, sends the excess fat cells over to the abdomen, surrounding organs and arteries leading to high blood pressure and heart attacks. Enlarged fat cells become starved for oxygen triggering inflammation that eventually smothers them. Scarred or damaged liver cells are called cirrhosis.

Most caregivers routinely recommend that hepatitis patients avoid drinking alcohol without explaining how the toxins in alcohol can cause additional damage to their already infected liver cells. Continued assault by unhealthy food and lifestyle choices lead to a drastically reduced number of healthy liver cells remaining to sustain all the essential body functions that we all take for granted. Eventually, with too few healthy liver cells remaining, the liver shuts down. When your liver shuts down...so do you.

Unfortunately, the liver is its own worst enemy. It has no way of alerting its owner that its liver cells are in trouble—except the fact that an obese individuals’ abdomen is protruding as a result of accumulated fat cells.

Individuals whose livers are under attack by hepatitis viruses are causing additional liver damage if they are overweight or obese. Liver cells that are being attacked by hepatitis viruses struggle to process all the foods they are being provided by their owner. Continued overindulgence and choices of unhealthy foods added to continued attack by rapidly multiplying hepatitis viruses accelerates damage to liver and cancer fighting cells and the spread of cancer.

Patients waiting to initiate their treatment for viral hepatitis, individuals who are co-infected with other hepatitis viruses and/or HIV or who are obese need to protect the remaining healthy liver cells to ensure their effectiveness in processing medications prescribed to treat other health issues. Your life depends on how well you take care of your internal life sustaining liver and especially for anyone who is obese, has hepatitis, HIV and/or other liver problems. Protect liver cells by avoiding contact with blood or body fluids or sharing toothbrushes, nail clippers, razors, needles or having a tattoo are vitally important for everyone to prevent hepatitis infections in the first placeEach day is precious, sustained by your miraculous liver.

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